When a Mental Illness Diagnosis Hurts Instead of Helps


For many people, mental illness is a daily challenge. Mental illness can be something that interferes with a person’s friendships, work, personal well-being, among many other things that affect quality of life. The daily challenges mental illness can pose are often made worse by the diagnosis a person receives. This can happen because of the stigma of a diagnosis. For many people, accepting a diagnosis of mental illness is a shaming experience.

Think for a second, if you learned someone you know has schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety or depression. Would this change how you view that person? People who receive a mental illness diagnosis may worry their friends, family and coworkers will view them differently. As if before the diagnosis they were viewed one way, but after receiving a diagnosis, they are viewed differently — often for the worse. Before a diagnosis, they may have been a person who struggled from time to time. But after a diagnosis, things seem to change and they are viewed only as “mentally ill.”

It’s a profound difference.

A diagnosis is a label. It’s an observation of certain behaviors and thought patterns that have been given a name. That’s it. But for some reason, that label holds so much power.

If you or someone you know are coping with mental illness, please know a diagnosis holds no power, that you are the same person you were before and the diagnosis just means maybe you can help yourself a little better now. Please know a diagnosis doesn’t define you and it never will.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Victor Tongdee.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

Subway train leaving station. People on platform.

That 'Crazy' Woman on the Train... I Know Her

Editor’s Note: Name has been changed to respect privacy of the individual involved. Just yesterday, I stumbled upon a YouTube video of what the user called a “crazy” woman on the New York City subway system. She yelled at people who sat near her, causing them to stay away from her. I had to do [...]
self portrait drawing called 'the contourshonist' that represents a muslim american woman with mental illness

Living as a Muslim American Woman While Facing Multiple Mental Illnesses

In the President’s first two weeks in office, he tried to issue a ban on immigrants coming into America from seven Muslim-majority countries. Memories of what I went through in my childhood, being bullied for my religion and ethnicity so many years ago, resonate fiercely with me now; hearing all of the anti-Muslim rhetoric today, [...]
Girl posing on the roof of tall buildings

How I Can Help End the Mental Health Stigma (Even a Little) as a 17-Year-Old

So, to begin with, some background knowledge: I have recently admitted to myself, my friends and my family that I am not well. After three years of struggling along in complete isolation, I have finally admitted I can’t fix this by myself, no matter how hard I try. (I should also say that I neither [...]
illustration of a couple holding a balloon

When Mental Illness Makes You Feel Like You Won't Find Love

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” — Stephen Chbosky, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” Hi, you. Yes you, the one reading this. I believe you ended up here for a reason, and I would like to thank you for being here with me. Whether you fight mental illness, love someone who fights mental [...]